Visit the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site

Oregon’s history isn’t all covered wagons and dysentery.

There’s a rich and subtle story of travelers, homesteaders, and frontier life scatted across the state. Evidence remains in unexpected places, like the wagon tracks in Baker City, or abandoned mining camps. If these fading historical locations speak to you, check out the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day.

An amazing glimpse into the past, the building is part general store, part community center, part Chinese medical clinic, and part residence. The building was erected sometime in the 1870s, as what is believed to have been a trading post.

At some point, two Chinese immigrants (Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On) claimed the building as their home and business. The pair became famous in the area, known respectively as a practitioner of herbal medicine and a general store proprietor. For over 50 years the building became a social, medical, and religious center of Oregon’s Chinese community.

When Ing Hay died in 1952, the building was abandoned until 1967, when the city of John Day began to restore the center as it was in the 1940s. In 2011, the center opened a new exhibit, honoring Doc Hay and Lung On. It has an extensive collections of materials from the century-long influx of Chinese immigrants in the American West.

Hours: Open daily May 1 - Oct. 31 between 9 a.m. – Noon and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. An ADA-accessible interpretive center across the street from the museum is open daily. Free guided tours begin at the top of each hour at the Interpretive Center and last about 45 minutes.

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8 years ago

Thanks for posting this interesting Oregon heritage site highlighting two important Chinese-American pioneers, Nastacia. We plan to check it out the next time we're in the area!

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